The Nelson Selects U16 Girls had a nail biter weekend in Cranbrook at the Kootenay provincial playdowns that ended in dramatic fashion and berth into the Provincial B Cup.
The Selects opened the hotly contested playdowns on Saturday morning at Moir Park with a match against Kootenay South (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Fruitvale), a team that has not scored a win against Nelson five seasons.
Ten minutes into the first half, Nelson’s Hanna Enns picked up a ball just inside the attacking half, split the Kootenay South back-four and then slotted a low shot to the left corner. The lead held up for 10 minutes when disaster struck.
“The ref stopped the game for a water break with the ball at midfield and after the break restarted the game with a drop ball,” explained Selects coach Justin Willans. “I instructed my player to back out of the drop ball thinking Kootenay South would play the ball back and then start, but they went forward and three nice passes later their striker slid a shot into the corner of our net that keeper Katie Bow had no chance at.”
Five minutes before half time Kootenay South gained the lead when they finished another nice passing move off with shot to the other corner that once again gave Bow no chance.
In the second half, the Selects pushed with Abbie Willans and Jena Wheeldon both ringing balls off the crossbar. With five minutes left. The Selects fate was sealed when a Kootenay South midfielder curled a corner kick into the top corner. The game ended with a jubilant Kootenay South taking the 3-1 win.
With their backs to the wall, the Selects started their second game Saturday afternoon with a contest against Kootenay East.
Though they controlled the play, the Selects were unable to score an early goal and the half ended in a 0-0 tie.
“In the second half we pushed, but a determined Kootenay East side kept us away from their net and even went on the attack,” said Willans. “The back line of Jena Wheeldon, Daina Shaw, Lauren Walgren and tournament MVP Paige Lefranc held strong and with five minutes left we finally got our break.”
Striker Aroha Tatini-Senshell took matters into her own hands and after a snaky run down the left wing that left several Kootenay East defenders grasping for ghosts, she finished the run with a rocket into the lower left side of the net.
The game ended with the Selects on the positive side of a 1-0 score and more importantly back in the running for the Kootenay spot in the provincials. and we were back in the running.
On Sunday morning the Selects took on Invermere who were 2-0 in their Saturday games. If Nelson was to get the Kootenay title they had to not only beat Invermere, but hope that Kootenay South lost with a goal differential that would favour the Selects.
Nelsons tarted strong and put on pressure but could not score early. Fifteen minutes into the game it was Invermere who opened the score off a corner kick.
Nelson continued to push and five minutes before half, Dania Shaw sent a beautiful cross in from the left wing that an Invermere defender accidentally deflected into her own net.
“The second half was as exciting as I have ever seen,” said Willans. “We amped up the pressure, but Invermere kept us away and few close misses kept the score knotted.”
With time running down, midfielder Shannon Oosterhausen hit a desperation shot from 20 yard at the Invermere net. The keeper got her hands to the ball, but could not secure it. When she fell over it bounced loose and slowly, painfully rolled the final one metre into the net. The ball did not even have enough momentum to reach the back of the net.
Forty seconds after scoring the go-ahead goal, the referee blew the whistle.
The Nelson girls then watched the last five minutes of the Kootenay East/Kootenay South game which ended 3-1 for the hosts and secured the Selects spot in the Provincial B Cup which takes place in North Vancouver on July 4-7.